Teesside University is undergoing a learning and teaching transformation with one of the biggest and most ambitious digital roll-outs the higher education sector has seen.

Through its new Future Facing Learning initiative, the University is embracing cutting-edge digital technology to completely change the way that students learn across the whole portfolio of academic courses.

The Digital Development Programme, supported by Microsoft, seeks to upskill and support Teesside’s academic staff so they can embrace digital technology to further enhance their teaching.

Around 400 academic staff are currently taking part in Phase One of the Digital Development Programme, with all remaining academic staff beginning their training from January next year. The partnership with Microsoft enables staff to access a wealth of development opportunities available through Microsoft’s Education Community, as well as the chance to achieve Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert (MIEE) certification upon completion of the programme.

Future Facing Learning at Teesside University provides students with the knowledge, skills and tools to thrive and succeed in a complex and ever-changing world. The initiative involves the Teesside Advance Scheme which, from September, will see all new eligible full-time undergraduate students receive an Apple iPad and a specially selected toolkit of apps which will enable them to excel at university and beyond.

Paul Durston, Digital Learning Manager at Teesside University, said: ‘This is an ambitious programme which will see staff use devices and the associated toolkit in new and innovative ways to further improve their teaching, as well as the student and learning experience.

‘To have Microsoft on board is fantastic and they have been extremely supportive of what the University is aiming to achieve through the use of digital technology.’

At the heart of the Advance Scheme is Microsoft Teams, an online collaborative space which allows groups of students and staff to work together, share ideas and communicate anywhere, at any time.

Staff are already embracing the new opportunities the iPads can bring to their teaching – through the use of iBooks in forensic photography, lab simulations in radiography and augmented reality in physiotherapy sessions – all of which are opening up new learning opportunities for students.

Professor Mark Simpson, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching) at Teesside University, said: ‘A great deal of work has gone into Future Facing Learning and it is an extremely ambitious scheme, designed to ensure that all of our students are future-ready and are equipped with the skills and attributes which employers are looking for.’

Claire Riley, FE and HE Engagement Manager for Microsoft in the UK, has been impressed with Teesside University’s ambition to embed digital technology throughout all aspects of its teaching and learning.

She says that currently, there are 270 people in the UK with Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert status, but Teesside University alone will shortly have up to 400 when staff have completed the programme.

‘Teesside’s ambition and passion for digital transformation knows no bounds,’ she added.

‘It has been fantastic to work with their staff who are completing a rich learning pathway designed for the new world, with Microsoft Teams at its heart.

‘We are delighted to partner with a university as ambitious as Teesside and are looking forward to supporting the implementation of this new toolkit so that both students and staff can thrive.’

Additional partnership with XMA for digital roll-out

XMA won the tender to provide the new iPads to students from September.

Between 3,500 and 4,000 iPads are being supplied by XMA – with an accompanying programme of training and support planned for students. The scheme is one of the largest of its kind to be seen in the higher education sector as it is being rolled out across the whole institution, rather than for bespoke programmes and courses.

Dr Steve Bunce, Professional Learning Specialist at XMA, said: ‘This is a huge project and it has been a great working with Teesside University who are really raising the bar in terms of what can be achieved through digital technology.’